2019 Ram 1500 pickup production problems costing FCA $300M to fix

Sterling Heights Assembly is running two shifts, seven days a week

Fiat Chrysler is spending more than $300 million to fix production issues with the new 2019 Ram 1500 pickup as the plant where it's built is running below capacity and suppliers reportedly struggle to keep up with building it and the 2018 version simultaneously.

The truck's ramp-up is well behind schedule, Automotive News reports. FCA's Sterling Heights Assembly plant in Michigan began building the pickup in mid-January but is running at only 60 percent capacity, CEO Sergio Marchionne said on an earnings call last week. Sources told the publication the plant is still undergoing construction and was building about 1,000 trucks per day toward a run rate of 1,400 per day. It's operating two 10-hour shifts per day, seven days a week, with plans to keep the factory running every weekend and holiday through Labor Day to meet production targets. More than 2,500 of the new pickups were reportedly awaiting unspecified electrical repairs before they could be shipped.

FCA could use the boost from the heralded new 2019 Ram 1500, which figures prominently in its aggressive annual financial goals. The company is relying on the previous-generation 2018 Ram 1500, demand for which has been sagging. First-quarter sales of the pickup are down almost 13 percent year over year to 103,964, according to figures. Meanwhile, sales of Ford's F-Series pickups over the same period rose 4 percent to 214,191, while Chevrolet Silverado sales have climbed 5 percent to 135,545.

Dealers have started receiving deliveries of the 2019 Ram 1500, but only the version fitted with the 5.7-liter V8. The EPA has yet to issue fuel economy ratings for the standard 3.6-liter Pentastar V6 paired with the eTorque 48-volt mild hybrid system, nor the same system mated with the V8. As we noted in our recent First Drive review, upgrading to the (non-hybrid) V8 costs $1,195, which is actually $255 cheaper than before.

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